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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Buddhism and Modern Psychology by Princeton University

5,329 ratings
1,817 reviews

About the Course

The Dalai Lama has said that Buddhism and science are deeply compatible and has encouraged Western scholars to critically examine both the meditative practice and Buddhist ideas about the human mind. A number of scientists and philosophers have taken up this challenge. There have been brain scans of meditators and philosophical examinations of Buddhist doctrines. There have even been discussions of Darwin and the Buddha: Do early Buddhist descriptions of the mind, and of the human condition, make particular sense in light of evolutionary psychology? This course will examine how Buddhism is faring under this scrutiny. Are neuroscientists starting to understand how meditation “works”? Would such an understanding validate meditation—or might physical explanations of meditation undermine the spiritual significance attributed to it? And how are some of the basic Buddhist claims about the human mind holding up? We’ll pay special attention to some highly counterintuitive doctrines: that the self doesn’t exist, and that much of perceived reality is in some sense illusory. Do these claims, radical as they sound, make a certain kind of sense in light of modern psychology? And what are the implications of all this for how we should live our lives? Can meditation make us not just happier, but better people? All the features of this course are available for free. It does not offer a certificate upon completion....

Top reviews

Oct 25, 2020

I thought this was a great introduction to both modern Buddhist thought and evolutionary psychology. Professor Wright is an excellent lecturer, and his office hours are informative as well as amusing.

Nov 15, 2015

I have been practicing meditation for two years already.In so far I have attended all Deepak Chopra meditation experiences which I found very helpful but not as helpful this course provided me so far.

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76 - 100 of 1,786 Reviews for Buddhism and Modern Psychology

By Juan N

Oct 22, 2017

What a great course! It may sound a bit dry or tedious but Robert, the instructor, makes it very exciting and above all hilarious. I'm not sure if he's aware of it but he's a really funny guy. The course strikes a good balance between the seemingly abstract ideas of Buddhism and the learning and insights from psychology. The course starts off quite basic and gradually builds up solid pieces of (sometimes sophisticated) proof/insights that logically answers the question if Buddhism can be considered a (naturalistic) religion. Highly recommended if you're interested in the topic of meditation/mindfulness with a light spiritual touch!

By Ann S

Jun 28, 2016

Loved this course. It was a lot of fun. The Prof. really cares about the subject and how his students contribute to his own understanding of it. (He takes a lot of time reading students' comments and replying to them during "office hours.") He also reaches out to experts in both psychology and Buddhism and shows you his dialogue with them. Finally, the guiding questions for the assignments are a good challenge and the instructions for structuring the paper very clear. I didn't have time to write the papers but will as soon as I've the time. Bonus: you get to meet his dogs, and they're awesome.

By Wind

Jun 15, 2017

I've taken more than 10 courses on coursera, edx and udacity and this is the one course that I love most so far! I've read a few books on meditation and evolution by now and I have to say I learned from this professor more than any other people on these two subjects. And let's not forget it's actually a course on buddhism. So thank you so much for this course! One big aha moment for me for example is "evolution doesn't care about whether we're happy but it does care that we care about we're being happy. And that's how evolution 'designed' us to do its bidding." That's so mind blowing.

By Francois Y L

Apr 29, 2020

Well I really got what I was looking for when I enrolled for the course; which is some sense of what Buddhism was about. I not only got that, but I also got a really good view of how it is linked to Modern psychology. The materials made available for the course are really precious to me and are very useful as I tried to understand the two subjects. They not only deepened my knowledge but also inspired me on different themes and things I want to look into next. I am very grateful to Coursera for making this freely available and for Prof. Wright for teaching his passion with passion.

By Jose M M

May 11, 2020

First, I want to express my sincere gratitude to Professor Robert Wright, for his dedication and human warmth. This course on Buddhism and modern psychology allowed me to add new tools to face daily life situations from another perspective. All the material presented in the course is developed in a clear and enjoyable way and encourages us to go on investigating and reflecting. I have enjoyed this course from the very beginning to the end, and taking responsibility for reading my classmates´ assignment has been enriching. Once more, thank you so much Professor Wright.

Jose M Muñoz.

By Susanne W

Feb 10, 2019

A very informative and intriguing course that draws clear parallels between evolutionary psychology and the concepts behind Buddhism. Robert Wright's lectures offer thought provoking ideas and combine them with vivid, everyday examples to aid understanding of each concept on the deepest levels. . His personal experience, knowledge and enjoyment of the topic at hand are evident in each lecture and he is a joy to learn from. I also enjoyed hearing from the other experts he interviewed throughout the course in this very interesting field of study.

Thank you for a great course!

By Dharav S

Jan 12, 2017

I personally believe this course should be taught in residential campuses and colleges all around the world. The course does introduce Buddhist ideas, but more importantly, it helps us realize our flaws in a Darwinian setting. It is more about Darwin and evolution than it is about Buddhism. It helps us understand why people sometimes are vicious, irrational or why we act in ways that we don't associate with us. I would recommend the course to everyone I know, and any one who is reading this: just finish the course in one small video at a time and put all of this in practice!

By cheyan

Jun 15, 2020

It has been an absolute pleasure to study Robert Wright's course in Buddhism and Modern Psychology. As a UK journalism graduate, with no previous knowledge whatsoever in this field,

I had the urge to branch out a try something different during this pandemic, I am so glad to have taken took that leap.

I have been constantly gripped into the lectures, independent study and research. It is an insightful course that teaches you at an introductory level but progresses you to strive further and learn more about the traditional Buddhist teachings and modern psychology perspectives.

By Tom S

Nov 18, 2015

I admit to being a novice when it comes to Buddhist thought, but I've followed Robert Wright's work since reading The Moral Animal many years ago. I found the course to be a wonderful introduction to Buddhist thought, but more importantly an inventive and thoughtful attempt to connect that worldview and its prescriptions to current thinking in western psychology. Whether you're interested in evolutionary psychology, neuroscience or mindfulness - or better yet, all three - I think you'll find this course well worth your time. Mr. Wright is a wonderful writer and teacher.

By Kristina R

Jun 23, 2016

Professor Wright is very engaging and knowledgeable! He breaks down Buddhism in an intellectual manner that does not demean the spirituality of it, but also does not adhere to it. This makes the course both educational and easy to digest, for anyone with an aversion to spiritual matters (which you will learn in this course may be a source of suffering...). I am only on the 2nd week of lessons and can't wait to see this through to the end! In an unattached appreciative manner of course... haha. Thanks to everyone that put forth the effort to design and share this course!

By Ricardo A

Feb 24, 2019

It is a pleasant and amusing introduction to Buddhism and Modern Psychology. This course focuses on meditation as a way of trying to reduce the impact of unproductive patterns of thinking. I find it an interesting and worthwhile course. Mr Wright proposes interesting theories based on natural selections. The central points in the course is how our modern life presents us with stimuli that were useful in our prehistoric environment but which cause us to overreact. Meditation makes us realize this and temper down or eliminate our responses and bring peace to our mind.

By Andrea

Sep 18, 2016

I loved this course, the professor is very clear at explaining and giving different points of view of the theories. Personally it was a huge help because of the situation I was in when I enrolled in the course and I think having a different view of the world and ourselves is incredibly useful and positive, This course helps attain just that so I highly recommend it for someone who wants to test a little their ideas and perceptions of the world and themselves because its not just a theoretically course because it has science and experiments that help support ideas.

By María d R M G

Jun 10, 2020

Considero que es un curso fundamental para todos los seres humanos.

Mediante el esfuerzo del Dr. Robert Wright y sus invitados a este curso, se puede concluir que sí es posible afirmar que la sabiduría ancestral del budismo tiene un sólido respaldo científico a través de las investigaciones y descubrimientos de la psicología evolutiva contemporánea. Estos descubrimientos brindan comprensión y certeza a la práctica de la meditación como elemento para alcanzar una vida más tranquila y acercarnos lo más posible al camino del sentido de la vida.

By Anna P M

Oct 19, 2016

Overall, the course has been very satisfying and it has provided me with precious knowledge concerning not only psychology and Buddhism in particular but also religion, philosophy and the way science can creatively interact with them. The lectures were almost always very easy to follow and Dr. Wright explained all concepts in a very clear and interesting way. I would maybe decrease the length of certain video lectures though. It is totally recommendable to anyone wanting to discover new perspectives that are based on really up to date facts.

By Daniel S

Jun 17, 2016

Prof. Wright provides students with an insightful range of knowledge which is bound to impact the way you see the world. I congratulate the professor, the teaching/research assistants, my colleagues and Coursera as a platform for making this a truly enriching experience. I registered for this course not knowing what to expect and it is revealing to see how an online class has provided me a way to see the world anew, bridging differences between the East and the West, the ancient and the modern, and the humanities and the sciences. Thank you!

By Tamer D A

Jan 21, 2018

Buddhist principles and values have come to the attention of all scholars in all ages since its inception thousands of years ago.

Wright has an academic approach to Buddhism and treats his sources impartially and with the requisite profundity needed in this field. Wright has briliantly structured the course to be accesible for all while demanding submissions and participations from students hailing from a wide-range of backgrounds.

Wright´s good sense of humor brings new light to Buddhism.

Thank you Coursera and Mr Wright at Princeton.


By Jay L

Nov 13, 2015

Intellectually challenging yet clearly explained, this is the best class I have taken through Coursera. Dr. Wright is an insightful lecturer and provides a look at both Buddhism and modern psychology in a straight forward way clearing both subjects of unnecessary cultural clutter and jargon. As both subjects are analyzed in a logical, compelling manner, it becomes evident how their relationship informs us about the human situation through our evolutionary past and in our crisis ridden modern world. Very thought provoking and inspiring.

By Harika B

Apr 7, 2018

I loved this course. It certainly changed my life understanding how mindfulness can help me lead a happier and healthier life. It also helped me benefit from my meditation practice more because understanding the why of what you are doing is so powerful. Now I m trying to prepare a course to help my students meet these ideas, just simplifying them as they are quite academic. Thanks a million to Robert Wright and everyone who contributed to this course. I will spread the ideas and hopefully this will help make the world a better place.

By Ali H

Jul 7, 2020

The course is essential in understanding the concepts of Buddhism that seem alien or Eastern to North Americans. The way the terms become defined and understood in a logical manner assisted by scientific evidence and rationale promotes Buddhism no longer as a religion but as mechanism for perfecting life that can be attached to any way of life. The presentation of this evidence is unquestionable and scientifically valid. I would not have expected anything less than this level of deliberation from such an esteemed thinker in our era.

By Rajendran V

Dec 11, 2017

A great course evaluating the Buddhist teachings from the evolutionary psychology point of view. For those who are following a Buddhist way of life this will be a very good course which will fill in many gaps and the confirmation that the Buddhist teachings are true from a scientific perspective as well. For those of you totally new to the Buddhist teachings, the topics presented may be a bit difficult to follow but if you really dig in and do some background study, then the course will be very interesting.

Highly recommended.

By Siddhant T

Oct 9, 2020

Fantastic Course, I'm Glad that i found this course about Buddhism Philosophy i noted down many points during the lecture and i read them whenever I want, i want to Thank Robert sir that he uploaded this course, i have a broader understanding of this world, about me, and i started meditating during when i heard the benefits of meditation through Robert sir and Buddhist Monks, it helped to calm my mind, focus on few aspect of life that need work, and taught me understanding of Buddha which i wanted to learn since i was a kid.

By Kaan K

Nov 5, 2020

Robert Wright truly realizes the potential of MOOCs with this course! I wish all the professors out there took example of his approach to online learning with so many office hours, bonus material and links to his other works, interviews with experts and so much more. I'm very thankful for the opportunity to have embarked on this journey with him and I highly recommend this course to anyone who'd like to deepen their understanding of Buddhism with respect to the teaching's connection with Modern Psychology findings. Namaste!

By Matteo T

Aug 23, 2020

Interesting and modern argument, developed very well thought-out the lessons. Prof Wright is able to lead the discussion in the videos keeping always high attention and interest from the audience (even if the overall remains sometime bit lengthy). Difficult concepts are explained and elaborated in a comprehensive way and supported by the discussion on comments from students (office hours). Two superstars contribute to the success (Milo and Fraiser) and we are waiting for the second course with latest results from science!

By Caroline B

Jul 26, 2017

It was an incredible journey through two of my greatest passions, buddhism and modern psychology. Robert Wright see the links between them, that I've been searching for a long time. I can now wrap my mind around many things I wanted to understand better. It will help me greatly as a person and as a therapist. Thank you a thousand times ! And thanks to all the sudents giving life to the discussions and evaluating the essays. Special thanks to Milo and Frasier for bringing a touch of humor in the delightful office hours^^.

By Anthony F

Jan 29, 2016

Having a BA in Psychology as well as continuously studied Buddhism in the past, I find that this class is a perfect example of how those two worlds collide. I've heard in the past that most religions find themselves being disproved by science today, where as Buddhism is strengthened by science. From that point of view, I think this class is a perfect argument why Psychology should be treated as a science rather than an art in society, with its roots founded in the existence of humanity, and the evolution of humankind.